Dollars to Pounds: Subeena

Photographer Megan Sharp
April 22, 2010

I've decided to narrow the scope of Dollars To Pounds. Instead of introducing awesome new music from across the UK, I'll focus on awesome new music from within five minutes of my flat in North London. It just makes my life easier. Sabina Plamenova aka Subeena is from Milan, but now lives round the corner from me. As her name suggests, she likes bass. Subeena makes crazy, hybrid electronic music that careens from mutant tropical techno through melodic screwed house to a kind of paradisiacal zen dubstep. She's just launched a new label, Opit, dedicated to music like hers that's distinctive enough to elude easy definition. She made us a special showcase mix and I talked to her about places we go that none of you will have heard of.

Subeena FADER Showcase Minimix
Subeena - System Message
Subeena - 2080
Subeena - Excuse me
Subeena - Neurotic (Instrumental)
Subeena - Don't call it anger
Subeena - Unconditional (Instrumental)
Subeena - Analyse
Subeena - Call it Anger
Subeena - Dual
Vaccine - Radiate (Subeena Remix)

Download: Subeena FADER Showcase Minimix

Your parents are both professional violinists. Do you think you were always going to end up making music yourself?
Yeah, I think it was always my plan, however the kind of music I am doing now is the (lucky) failure of a few attempts by my parents to get me involved with classical music (violin, piano... my dad even suggested I try opera singing). I forgot everything I learned, but I'm sure it's still working from somewhere inside of my brain. I liked loads of different kinds of music, went through so many things while growing up, my parents have always been really open though in terms of what they listened to. I always played them what I liked and still send them most of my tunes.

You went to the Red Bull Music Academy, what was that like?
Yes, I went to the one in Barcelona in 2008. It was great. More than for the bits of hardware I had the chance to use it was amazing for the people and the context really. I've always been pretty solitary music wise, especially when it comes to making tracks. I'd never been in one place with so many creative people, being put there with the sole purpose of being creative. I'd hardly ever tried to make a tune with someone before. It was definitely one of the best things I've experienced. Also it happened at the right time, because at the point I found out I was accepted I was feeling pretty confused about my music and where it was going.

Your music seems to shift and change a lot. There's been a definite exploration of different sounds. I want to talk about "your journey" but that would make me sound like Simon Cowell.
I'm not sure he would be that nice. I'm not really aware if it sounds fresh
glad if it does! I don't know, I guess I'm subconsciously constantly influenced by the stuff I happen to hear and that is being produced now, on the other hand I try to keep quite detached in many of the elements. When it comes to sources of inspiration I voluntarily refer to, I tend to go and listen to things I used to love in the past (not all the time clearly, but often)
In terms of people influencing me, if I know them personally as well for some reason I feel much more energy in their music when I listen to it, which inspires me a lot. I'm glad that being in London allows me to meet many of them beyond virtual life.
Back to my sound, I've always wanted to be sure I wouldn't sound like a specific genre, especially after I decided to stop attempting to do 140 half-step kind of stuff. Now I sometimes wish I would stick to something a bit more (I'm only halfway serious here).

You've featured a few vocalists on your tracks, like Jamie Woon and Om'Mas. Now you're starting to sing yourself. Was that always part of the plan?
That was one of the very, very first ideas as a kid. I tried to be in a band for a couple of months, but it was pretty bad. We got on well when hanging out but musically it was kind of weird. When I started making tunes I decided I would leave it and totally refused any sort of vocals for quite a while, so after I decided to try and sing again it took ages until I actually did it. If I'm in the right mood/mind frame I'm quicker than I thought I would be in putting some vocals together, but I know I'm only at the beginning and in a few months they will be probably much different. I also found myself changing the way I'd make the actual tunes and the way I'd want to sing, but it's all slowly taking shape.

You used to run Immigrant/Imminent Recordings, but now you've started a new label, Opit.
I was running Imminent with Dot, so clearly being two people puts you in a different position. It has both its up and downsides. It was just the right moment to quit it. We'd started to both go our own different ways, but it was definitely a great way to learn. We put out our own stuff, a couple of remixes, and a 12-inch by Wagwaga. Opit is a label I'm running on my own, and I want to release anything I think deserves to be heard, especially if, like my stuff, it struggles to be placed in a certain genre. I've always thought that people shouldn't be put off from releasing music just because their tunes are not the typical club banger, that's not the point. But yeah, for now it's all at early stages, but the hope would be to release both mine and other people's music. The next 12-inch is by Milyoo then I will be on the third release with remixes by Egyptrixx and Ghosts on Tape.

You live round the corner from me. Where's the best place to hang out in Stoke Newington?
I probably don't know the best ones myself... I like the Coach & Horses, Ryan's beer garden, the Shillelagh even though I don't go there much. And the farmer's market, obviously.

Yeah, the market is awesome.

From The Collection:

Dollars To Pounds
Posted: April 22, 2010
Dollars to Pounds: Subeena